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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jury Duty Part II

Well I did my jury duty. I happened to have the chance to read my latest paperback but then again they have a television in the jury room so that was a bonus. Nobody was talking to anyone other than pleasantries and it felt more like a wake then a public service adventure.

All of the folks that were called for jury duty were placed in a room that was somewhat devoid of any artwork other than a Walmart special clock that just failed to tick off the minutes. Then the court officer came in and declared war on smokers and anyone with an inkling of needing to leave the room we were somewhat incarcerated in. If any one person left the room, we would be there till after four in the afternoon due to procedures in place to keep the jury pool out of ear shot of any lawyers discussing cases in the halls. Sort of a time out for all of us kids on the jury pool because one of us just might sneak out for a butt. When he asked for a show of hands amongst us only one person raised their hand and he was put to task. "I will be watching you!" The court officer stated as fact.

Just as the morning television talk shows were in full game they killed the television on us to watch one of those Charlie Brown videos of judges discussing the process, what the duty of the jury is and how it all works. I'm sure the woman sleeping at the table heard the teacher from Charlie Brown, Wha, wha wha wha, wha wha wha wha wha....

I forgot to mention the screening process, no cell phones, no electronic devices, and all the rest of logical things like weapons of mass destruction are not aloud in the court house. I emptied my pockets and feared that my bic lighter would be seen as a terrorist weopon but is was not once we were locked down. My wallet and pictures of my kids were rifled through as well as my car keys. Key to key were looked over. I was pissed off when one of the jury members whipped out her lap top and started typing away once we were in the sealed room. Had I known those were okay I would have brought mine.

One of the judges from the court came into the jury room in full robes and thanked us all for attending and serving not just our state but our nations legal system and that impressed me. It was probably the same speech he gives five days a week but it was the first time I have heard it and it made sense. Thank you Judge whatever the hell you said your name was. I so much wanted to ask him while he was thanking me so much for being there where the vending machines were for a soda, a snack, something? I didn't.

End result of my jury service was that I did not get to be on a jury. Damn lawyers scewed me over and settled all of the cases today or had continuences without the need for a jury. From what I now understand this is the case many times in our courts. All of my anxiety for serving on a jury were dealt with by a couple of lawyers making a deal in the halls of justice. Am I wrong to think that our justice system is screwed up? Yes, lawyers are there for their clients but if they are spitting out odds like a Las Vegas gambling house then why am I being called for jury duty?

Have people taken lawyers opinions as judges as a fact they have to face without a trial? Even a trial by a jury is feared by the lawyer? I see a real problem with this and frankly you should too! This is a serious dilemma. Judges in a court of law are lawyers but any lawyer in a court is not a judge. Something isn't right here. How do these lawyers know what any jury would think given any case? What if I had one problem with any given statement in any trial as a jury member? What if I had a problem with the police procedures used in any given trial?

Trusting a lawyer when your interests are at stake is up to you as an individual to say yes or no. Lawyers should be advisors to their clients and not deal makers in the courts of our justice system.


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Blogger Steve said...

The decision to settle a case lies with the parties to the case, not the lawyers. The lawyers can advise the clients and let them know what the odds are given the evidence at hand. However, the ultimate decision whether to go to trial, settle, or plead to a lesser offense.

The court system needs these people to settle, or the system would collapse under the weight, or, more importantly, individuals' sixth amendment rights would be constantly violated.

In Houston, we have about 1 lawyer for every 350 citizens. This equates to about 1150 lawyers in the greater Houston area. The solo practitioner I worked with held an average caseload of about 60 cases a month. If this was a consistent number, in Houston alone, we would see about 868,000 cases per year. With a population of about 4,000,000, you multiply that by 7.5 to get the average number of people in the country not including the number of corporations, partnerships, LPs, LLPs, LLCs, and LLLPs that are subject to lawsuits, and you see annually some 6 and a half million cases filed each year. Even if 95% of those cases are settled, you can see how many cases go to court every day.

This is what leads to the overburdened judicial system.

The lawyer's job is to competently represent his client and seek to represent the client's best interests. That necessarily is an odds game. The odds are often against the defendant in a criminal case, as district attorneys usually won't file suit unless they are fairly confident of a conviction, and due to the publics' presumption that defendants are actually guilty if they are brought to court. As such, the conviction rates are rather high, and usually pleading to a lesser offense will result in less jail time for the client. This is particularly inviting to a client who is actually guilty of the crime for which he has been charged, as well as the state, because that individual will be punished for his actions, will have to spend time in jail, and answer for his offense, yet he won't have to do as much time as he otherwise would have had to, and he will be out sooner.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Thanks for the feedback Steve. I never looked at it that way?

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its just like this, judges, lawyers,bar associations, disciplinary counsel, all of the judicial systems are no more than criminals. they lie,change legal documents and whatever it takes.they all stick together, thats where they get there power.all of the judicial symstem are more criminal than the criminals that there allowed to pass judgement on. the government is nothing more than liars and criminals as well.thats why america is reaping total destuction.

8:55 AM  

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